A Bloomin’ Barn

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Atonement TN aetna-diner-vintage-postcard-Dan Antion

Image courtesy Dan Antion

When I was ready to publish Atonement in Bloom, blogger extraordinaire Dan Antion did the first ever (as far as we know) fictional Thursday Doors post.  He used doors and buildings from his part of the country that made him think of my quirky fantasy town in Tennessee. 

Recently, with the photos Dan posted for Thursday Doors, he shared more of the images he considered for that Atonement promo post. Among those photos was an old barn that reminded me of a scene from Atonement in Bloom.  Dan gave me permission to use it here.  So, I decided to share another snippet from my latest novel.

Pig Valentine 2

Based on my blog posts, anyone might think my Atonement novels are all about animals.  However, the core of the story is an everyday person whose plate is full with a real world that suddenly seemed full of supernaturals.  The critters are just a side-dish of whimsy.  Their parts are also easier to share in blog posts.  That said, here’s a new excerpt featuring Lilith, the calico cat.  She’s an ordinary cat… but all cats are extraordinary.

Setup.  Lilith got a little too adventurous, sniffing out a magical beast.  Frightened, as any sensible feline would be, she jumped to the nearest hiding spot.  Unfortunately, that spot was the open back of the Fae’s Flowers van.  Soon Gwydion got behind the wheel and the van cruised down the road.  Lilith was so rattled from the magic she had witnessed, that she was afraid to make her presence known.  Besides, Gwydion sounded really angry. Finally the van stopped. 

A Bloomin’ Barn

Central Pennsylvania barn_Dan Antion

Photo by Dan Antion

There were a few cows nearby.  Lilith couldn’t see them but her ears and nose told her about them.  The barn had faded red paint, but it was built on a stone foundation and it had a bright tin roof, so it looked dry and safe.

The calico wondered if she should get out of the van since it had finally stopped.  Maybe she should go to the safe looking barn.  Lilith didn’t like being in the van, but she knew nothing about where she was, except that it would be a very long trot to get home.  Esmeralda would be most upset with her by the time she finally got there… probably sometime the next evening.

She heard Gwydion arguing with men inside the barn. 

“Where is it?” he demanded.  “Where is the mirror?”

Lilith heard Gwydion’s voice clearly.  It seemed unlike him to be harsh, especially not so often.  She missed his lilting flirty voice and wondered what had become of that side of him.  If Gwydion had become so hateful, perhaps she didn’t want to be in the van with him again.

She swished her tail in indecision.  Just as she was about to jump, Lilith became aware that she wasn’t alone.  The old woman stepped up beside her.

blue-hair-Bun Beira Pixabay free

Pixabay

“Hello little heart.  This is a surprise!  You truly are the inquisitive one, aren’t you, to come all the way out here?” Beira the Crone said, and her long lapis-blue braid swung as she leaned down to scratch the cat’s cheek.

In the sunlight her complexion didn’t look quite so blue, just very pale. 

“Never you mind that hotheaded fae.  I’ll see you home.  I have to visit your Sunhold anyway,” she said.

That was when Lilith saw the awful mirror.  She had thought never to see it again.  Lilith hissed and arched her back, hackles rising.

“Now, now.  There’s no need to be that way.  It’s not an evil thing, you know.  It just shows the truth… in one way or another,” Beira said reasonably.  “Well… I have to admit that it can be cryptic and even mischievous, but it’s not altogether malevolent,” the old woman said of the Mirror of Truth and Justice Most Poetic.

The calico wondered why anyone would want the nasty mirror.  She meowed her disapproval at Beira.  Cailleach Bheur seemed to understand.

Lilith and mirror

Dreamstime

The old woman’s eyes narrowed as she paused for thought.  Beira made a tsk sound.

“Taking the mirror from Gwydion will be a small beginning toward settling his debt,” she said.

The comment sounded vengeful to Lilith’s ears.  She tilted her head as she regarded Beira.  The old woman relaxed visibly, seeming to put aside her unkind thoughts.

“Calm yourself and come with me,” she said stroking the calico’s soft fur.  “If it makes you feel better, I’ll get you home so quickly that Esmeralda will never realize you’ve been gone.”

“What do you mean it’s gone?” Gwydon’s irate voice was easily audible.

Beira’s promise, combined with a crash from within the barn and another furious yell from Gwydion was all the persuasion she needed.  Lilith leapt into Beira’s arms.

***

Ah yes, that naughty mirror from “Atonement, Tennessee” came back for a cameo in “Atonement in Bloom,” although its part wasn’t as large.  I expect it will show up again in book three.   

I hope you enjoyed this little detour.  Join me at the station on Wednesday for the next Hidebound Hump Day.  We’ll catch the #SteamPunk train for Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers with Chapter 21. The random “things” driving that episode are Moustache Cup, Apricot Charlotte, Mangle.

I’ll be looking for you at the station.  Mega hugs!

Update:  I love your comments. Forgive me if my replies are short.  This morning I cut two fingers. I’m fine, but the bandages make typing ridiculously difficult.  

***

Now some shameless self-promotion.

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

A Pause & a Review — (Cornelis will be back)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Red neon party bus

Straightlaced Saturday will not be at the steampunk train station today.  This weekend I must not blog, no matter how much I miss visiting with you.  Why?  I have a ton of work to do before the Atonement, TN Party Bus is road worthy!  So I’ve disabled comments today.  

However… Deme and Honeybell were so excited about this lovely review of their Snort Stories from Dyanna at Ravenhawks’ Magazine that I have to share it with you before the launch party for Atonement in Bloom!

Pigs collection cover banner

Dyanna’s review:  Fun and funny. Glowing pigs visit the little town of Atonement, Tennessee bringing their own brand of quirky magic to a town already steeped in magic. This wonderful little book give you a glimpse of the magic that Deme and Honeybell create and a quick peek at some of the residents of Atonement. It is a quick entertaining read guaranteed to bring a smile a short and even giggle.

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers will continue on Wednesday for Hidebound Hump Day.

Bloom bkgnd text flowers

I will be busy making sure that everyone who promised to help with the book launch of Atonement in Bloom is represented on the party bus and the Atonement, TN book fair.

Some of the characters from my quirky town of Atonement, TN are helping me prepare the bus.  Lilith the cat is your driver, and the otherworldly glowing pigs, Deme and Honeybell are hostesses.  They wanted to show you the inside of the party bus.  (I’m channeling my Meadow character, who has green hair.)

Inside Party Bus 2 pigs me

The party bus/book launch will go live October 20. 

The party bus will be making stops all around the town as we pick up readers and bloggers.  

Party Bus inside Lilith

Roll on party bus!  I’ll see you soon!  

***

Now some more shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Another Bloomin’ Cover Reveal — But this time it’s mine!

Friday, October 5, 2018

I debated when to run this post.  I worried that it wouldn’t be seen between my serial posts — so I scheduled it as my Saturday post. Then I worried that you’d lose track of Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers… 

Have I ever mentioned that Springsteen was born to run, Steppenwolf was born to be wild, and I… well, I was born to worry?  The short story is I changed my mind this morning and decided to post the cover reveal now!

First came Atonement, Tennessee — my debut novel.  For years, as time, life, and my job permitted (which wasn’t nearly often enough) I worked on the creation of a sequel.  Eventually, I started my editing process.  That was made more difficult because of all those years of start and stop writing.  And then, the editing was almost as stop-n-go as the writing.  (I could have had my own convenience store. Snort!)

I’ve talked about book-2 for so long that it’s embarrassing.  I feel like I’m going out on a flower laden limb by (again) saying that I will release the book soon.  Even so, I present to you, the cover of Atonement in Bloom.

Bloom bkgnd text flowers

A Review!

The inimitable Donna Parker received an advance copy of “Bloom” and did a review here.  Donna did some fabulous casting for a movie version.  I loved her choices of actors.  Be sure to visit her post.

The book launch will be soon.  I’m aiming for October 20th, if everything goes well with the publication process.  However, you know me — I have to be different.  It won’t be your everyday book launch.  It’s going to be a blog party bus!

Yes, there are some of the characters from my quirky town of Atonement, TN already on the bus.  Lilith the cat is your driver, and the otherworldly glowing pigs, Deme and Honeybell are hostesses.  If you want to participate in this Party Bus Book Launch let me know by October 13th, because I need to add you to the story

Atonement Blog Party Bus Loaded

What do I mean? If you want to be mentioned in the blog party (along with your link), I’m asking you to promote the book launch from your blog in return.  I can send you an HTML file of the entire post, or you can reblog it.  Any takers? 

Update: Again… if you want to be featured on the party bus, you must leave me a link (to what you want to show) in your comment.  In return, I ask that you please reblog my launch (party bus) post — or let me know you can work with an HTML post and I will send you the entire post. 

The party bus/launch will go live October 20.  Feel free to post that day, or any day afterward.

I announced this on Facebook earlier. Thanks to Carol Taylor, Jacquie BiggarValentina Cirasola,  Gerlinde de Broekertand Barb Taub, who have already offered to share the party bus launch.  Special thanks to Dan Antion who will promote the cover reveal at his place, with very short notice.  If I have enough time I’ll make an Atonement TN bookstore, so leave a link to a picture of your book.

The party bus will be making stops all around the town as we pick up readers and bloggers.  So if you want to participate in this off-the-wall book launch, then have your links ready. Remember, I need them by October 13th.

Roll on party bus!  Mega hugs! 

***

Now some more shameless self-promotion.

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Character Interview: Ralda Lawton — Features from Atonement, TN

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Available in paperback, Nook, and Kindle

Welcome to Atonement, TN everyone.

I’m giving myself a break this weekend and doing a rerun.

But first… I’m revising this post. I wanted to share something new with you, even though it has little to do with this post.  Monarch butterflies.

The butterfly is a symbol of transformation. One thing for which people who analyze books look is growth or transformation in characters. One particular character in Atonement, Tennessee changes, but that would be a spoiler, so I won’t go there. However, the heroine begins to grow, maybe even spread her butterfly wings.  Yet as in real life transformations are not always successful.

Now that I’ve tied it to this post, here’s something lovely that Google brought to my attention; a news article and a video.

What Is the Mountain of Butterflies?”

Now, back to my re-run!

This character interview was also posted two years ago.  I had just released my debut novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  

I’m delighted that many of you have been with “Teagan’s Books” that long.  For those of you who are newer, I hope you will enjoy this interview with the main character.

Character Interviews:  Ralda Lawton

Teagan:  Welcome Ralda.  Thanks for stepping outside of Atonement, Tennessee for this interview.  Forgive me if I’m not great at this – I’ve never interviewed one of my characters before.  Help me avoid giving any spoilers in this!  (I laugh.)

Ralda:  That’s no problem.  I already know that you used assorted bits of yourself not just for me, but for all the women characters in Atonement.

Teagan:  Yes, that was the only way I could write an entire novel in thirty days – for the 2012 National Novel Writing Month.  However, you are your own woman.  You’re not my alter ego, even if there is a good bit of me in your character.  But this interview is about you, not me.  So, are you really a small town girl at heart?Ralda-in-car_dreamstime_xs_28934268

Ralda:  I should have known you wouldn’t let me get away with controlling the interview.  (She jokes.)  Not exactly.  I’m more of a city girl who prefers small towns.  I don’t think that’s quite the same thing.  Despite all the crazy things that have happened since I moved to Atonement, TN, I like the town and the people.  There is always more to the people than I expect.  Plus I feel like it’s the kind of place where I never know what might happen.  I mean, it’s interesting.

Teagan:  What do you think about Gwydion?

hero-position-6468259Ralda:  Ugh!  I knew that was coming.  I try not to think about him – or Cael for that matter.  Gwydion is undeniably handsome and charming, and sometimes I admit that I’m attracted to him.  But…

Teagan:  But you don’t trust him? 

Ralda:  (She sighs and slouches back against her chair.)  I’m not a trusting soul.  When I ask him a question… it’s not that I think he’s lying.  But I always feel like he’s leaving out something; like I’m hearing a partial truth.  So how could I trust him?  Besides that, it seems like odd little things happen when he’s around.  I don’t know how to explain that, but it doesn’t help me trust him.Gate Ajar Night

Teagan:  Speaking of souls…I understand your new home has a cemetery.  (She shakes her head as if she can’t believe that herself.)  How do you feel about having a graveyard on your property?  Also, is one of the graves that of your ancestress?

Ralda:  I admit it was a creepy idea at first.  But I was so drawn to the house, Sunhold, that I tried not to think about the cemetery.  I sort of ignored the fact that it was part of my new home.

Teagan:  I’ve noticed that seems to be how you handle things that bother you – deciding not to think about them.  (She looks at me archly, but then sheepishly.)  I’m sorry – please continue.

Ralda:  I realize that – thinking about something later, is not one of the traits I get from you.  Don’t even try to figure it out.  It’s old baggage.  Like I said, at first I thought having my own cemetery was creepy, and right off the bat I had a frightening experience there.  However, I quickly came to feel protective of the old place.  It was overgrown, and unthreatening.  It has a certain kind of beauty.  It seems contemplative, peaceful, and oddly vulnerable.  There is something special about that old cemetery.Lilith standing on stone

As you know, Ralda is a nickname I chose.  My given name is Esmeralda.  One tombstone in the old cemetery has the name Esmeralda Gwynedd.  My friend and neighbor, Bethany, is absolutely determined that it is an ancestress of mine.  We’ll have to see how that plays out.  You said not to give any spoilers.

Teagan:  True.  With spoilers in mind, maybe we should leave it at that.  At least for now.  Thanks Ralda.  I know you’d much rather be in Atonement, TN than in DC talking to me.

Atonement, Tennessee is available in the following formats:

 

When the Greatest Is the Smallest — Features from Atonement, TN

It’s My 3rd Blogiversary!champagne n glasses 2

The second day of December marked the third anniversary of this blog.  Like some other things, to me it doesn’t seem nearly that long — yet it also feels like something I’ve always done.

To many bloggers and readers three years and 295 posts truly is not much at all.  I recognize that it’s not exactly a great achievement. However, great or small, it feels pretty good to me.  So cheers!

At Once Great and Small — and the Challenges

Meadow_frameWhen an urban fantasy story becomes a series, usually new characters are added with each volume.  As the story-line for Atonement in Bloom took shape, a few new supernatural characters came along.

 (I don’t mean to be a tease… Who knew it would be such a challenge to share about a novel in progress without giving spoilers?)

One of the new supernatural characters is Meadow.  Her existence helps give the story a whimsical tone.  In describing Atonement, Tennessee I often say that it doesn’t take itself seriously.  The same is true of the sequel. Atonement in Bloom has the same kind of humor.  Not a laugh-out-loud kind of funny, but an eyebrow-raising “Did she really say that?” funny.

Meadow’s character doesn’t actually do a lot (at least not at this point but who knows how that might change).  Yet despite the fact that she doesn’t shoot lightning bolts or save the day, Meadow is central to the story of Atonement in Bloom.  She is at once great and small.

One challenge ahead of me is to better develop Meadow’s character.  I’ll describe this character as an “inactive” cause of some events in the story.  She doesn’t take actions that cause events, but without her presence, they would never have happened.

Artist, Cheryl Rose Hall

Artist: Cheryl Rose Hall

Meadow is not alone in the “great but small” category. Beira the Crone, also known as Cailleach Bheur, is a new character inspired by Celtic mythology.  Her presence in the story is very small, yet her part is great; integral to the story-line.  My challenge with Beira is sewing her thread throughout the story, so it doesn’t seem contrived when she makes an appearance.

A Snippet from Atonement in Bloom

You already know I’m concerned about giving away any part of the story, so I won’t say when this tidbit takes place.  It’s part of a scene with Beira the Crone.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.

And now to restore the balance,” Beira said but then hesitated.  “But those two tricksters have definitely earned a lesson,” she said fiercely.

Beira looked at the calico and her expression softened.  “I see you are fond of him. So be it then, for your sake little heart. But there must be at least a small lesson.  The balance must be kept,” she added with a wink to Lilith.

Her dark green velvet cloak fell back as she extended both arms.  With the staff still grasped in her right hand she turned in a circle three times clockwise.  As she moved, the velvet cloak swirled about her ankles as if the wind moved it.  Her long lapis-blue braid lifted on the same invisible currents.  Her eyes shone brightly in the moonlight.  On the third circle Beira tilted her head back exultantly and smiled.

Blue Rose on Wall

The temperature plummeted.  Snowflakes floated to the ground.  Snow began to accumulate on the nearby stone wall.  Beira walked over to it and tilted her head as if considering.  “So it has grown here before, and spontaneously.  Ah, recently too.  This place is more interesting than I knew. Perhaps it bears further investigation,” Beira commented, rousing Lilith’s curiosity.

She gave the wall a light tap with her age darkened wooden staff.  Then she nodded once more.

Lilith’s feline ears heard an odd vibration within the stone wall, which a human would never have noticed.  In the light of the moon, the cat watched as a single rose sprouted from the top of the rock wall.  A single blue rose.

***

Coconut Snowballs Recipe

In keeping with the setting of the story snippet, I searched the WordPress countryside for a recipe with “snow” in the title. I found a blog called Whisk Away Your Worries.  The delightful Meaghan shared a recipe for Coconut Snowballs.  Click on the picture or the link for the recipe.

Coconut Snowballs

Thanks for visiting Atonement, TN.  Say hello by leaving a comment.

Mega hugs,

Teagan

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Mysterious Lodge — Features from Atonement, TN

Building a House with Magic — The Mysterious Lodge

Lous House in Snow-2

Sometimes things don’t go as planned — as you saw last weekend. Thank you so much for coming back again.  I’m also sorry you missed the Halloween treat from Isabel at Cakes and More 101.  I was going to feature a recipe from her last weekend.  Isabel has a beautiful blog, so I’m sure I will get to feature her again soon.

Update: My Writing Process

Atonement in Bloom

First an update, and I cringe as I tell you this…  For months I’ve said I will then I won’t, and I will, and then Are you crazy? There’s no way!  I was talking about National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo.  It’s a huge, all absorbing effort to write a draft novel (of at least 50,000 words) in a single month — that month being November.  Yet my first NaNoWriMo effort produced Atonement, Tennessee.

My big novel writing push was going to be October.  But I didn’t accomplish nearly as much on book-2, Atonement in Bloom as I hoped.  So I’ve made NaNoWriMo part of my writing process.  (I’m not technically doing it, because I had already started the novel months ago.) Rather than reach for a certain word-count, my goal is for time spent writing each day. So far I’m doing better than expected.  However, part of doing NaNoWriMo is letting everything else slide in favor of writing. So there are important things that I’m not getting done.  Sigh… It’s just impossible to do enough of everything.

About That Mysterious Lodge

Lous House Inside ViewRecently Suzanne at Musings on Life and Experience commented that I was building a whole town. Her words prompted me to let this post relate to one of my favorite parts of writing fantasy — world building.  However the Atonement books are not on the scale of what they call “high fantasy,” so I really liked it when Suzanne said I was building a town. That seems perfectly suitable for my urban fantasy!

Of course an important part of creating a town in the minds of my readers is to help them see the businesses, official buildings, and the houses of the people who live there.

I needed a house for a new supernatural character.  What, I pondered, would a house look like that was built by magic?  Furthermore, what if that magic was nature-based? Finally, what if the character who would live there was very flamboyant?Lous House Inside Pool

The perfect illustration eluded me, but the grand lodge pictured at the top of the page will do nicely.  It’s a new house in Atonement, TN and it went up practically over night.  Hmmm… do you think there was magic involved?Lous House Inside Fireplace

This house is an important setting in Atonement in Bloom, so it needed to be very real to me.  I made quite a few “pins” for it on my Pinterest board for the novel.

My Pinterest pins are also part of my writing process.  Some times when I can’t get started writing, I choose one of the pictures I’ve saved and start writing about it. I may begin by simply describing what I see in the image, but it usually turns into a story.

Lew or Patrick Macnee as John SteedThe character who lives in it is flamboyant, but quirky. (Whether this character is good or bad, I’ll leave to you to decide.)  I see him as looking like an odd cross between Austin Powers and John Steed of the 1960’s TV series The Avengers.  However, he is not a secret agent or any sort of spy.  No, he’s just a supernatural being — one with his own unique fashion sense!  But I digress… More on this guy another time.

Back to the magically created house. Because of the type of magic involved I knew it had to be made of wood.  Some of you who enjoy woodworking will like this place. For this character the house had to be audaciously impressive, but also sort of… raw.  Lous House Inside Stairs

There will probably be a holiday party at this house because “Bloom,” as another Suzanne, at A Pug in the Kitchen, nicknamed my novel in progress takes place during December.  (Suzanne DeBrango has followed this blog since its early days, and I really appreciate her unfailing support.)  Anyway, I thought they might serve something like Suzanne’s hot cider recipe.

Hot Buttered Spiced Hard Cider

Hot buttered spiced cider

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to Atonement, TN.  Please come back again soon.

Mega hugs!

Teagan

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Atonement, TN: Beginning

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The Story Begins

I’m posting this especially for those who have requested something longer to read.  I’m listening to your comments, and I aim to please!  So here is a rather long excerpt from the beginning of “Atonement, Tennessee,” my debut novel, published on Christmas Eve 2013.

With our “interactive” serials, The Three Things, and The Three Ingredients, I’m considerate of the fact that you might not have time to settle in with the story.  So I try to keep the episodes brief. Here, I’m giving you a large chunk from the beginning of Atonement, Tennessee.  It’s doesn’t take itself too seriously. The urban fantasy is set in our world, in the current time, but with supernatural elements, and a side order of mystery.

Naturally I hope this leaves you with a taste to read the rest of my novel.  It’s for sale at Barnes & Noble [online only of course], and at Amazon/Kindle. In case you’re curious, here’s my Amazon author page.  I hope you’ll check it out:   http://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

Prologue

Dawn’s light cast shadows that shifted amid branches of magnolia and mountain laurel, and danced upon statuary and grave ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????stones.  A mouse scurried out from the darkness of the mausoleum, narrowly avoiding Lilith’s expert pounce.  The big calico cat gave chase to the mouse, romping between headstones and tumbling the fallen leaves for some little while before losing interest.

Lilith held her head up expectantly, as if suddenly aware of something unseen.  In a series of graceful but quick motions she jumped to a tall grave marker that had toppled against the mausoleum, and then onto the tomb’s roof.

From her high perch the calico could see a house that was on the opposite side of the street, down a short distance from her new home.  Lights were on inside, silhouetting a large shape that moved from room to room.  It looked like a man.  He approached the tall, broad window on the second story front of the house.  There he stopped, seeming to look outside as if aware of being observed.

The cat continued to stare.  The silhouette seemed to shift and bulge, extending to fill the big window.  Huge appendages moved rhythmically.  Lilith watched, fascinated.  After a moment the shape diminished and the house went dark.black_eagle_with_open_wings_design-t1

Now that certainly wasn’t anything native to this place, she thought.  Lilith wondered just how badly he had erred to be in this unique place.  He surely wasn’t there of his own choice.

The calico sat meditatively swishing her tail as a pink sunrise gently lit the sky.  Her ears pricked as she turned toward the distant sound of a rooster crowing.  As morning light touched the tip of a spire on the mausoleum’s peaked roof, the calico abandoned her perch and trotted back toward her new home.

Sunlight glittered the morning dew on the grass, so she walked along the stone path.  The cat stopped in a sunny spot to watch a spider.  It disappeared beneath a stone, so she started washing her face, but listened for anything that might prove interesting.

Early sounds of the day were pushed aside when a shaggy dog with a ribbon bow on its head made his escape.  The owner began Puddles in grasschanting the dog’s name, “Puddles, Puddles!” in a loud, displeased monotone.  The dog, having thus far outwitted the master, scampered between hedges and under a fence, where the hateful bow was happily lost.  Skidding round a corner the dog came upon the fat calico cat.  Lilith stopped washing her face, paw in midair, and looked disdainfully at the dog.  An expression of comprehension sprang to the dog’s eyes.  He turned with a shrill yip and ran back to his still chanting master.

The shadow of a hawk passed overhead as the cat sauntered to the back door of her home, entering when it opened, and meowing her opinion of the dog.

***

I        A Home

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, ready to savor the moment.  Then I opened my eyes, and for the first time, looked out the kitchen window at the morning.  No.  It wasn’t the kitchen window, it was my kitchen window.  It seemed like forever since I’d had my own home.

Fogy DCI had felt terribly displaced.  Renting.  In the big city.  I wasn’t exactly thrilled with my life there in other ways either.  Many people thought I should just “catch a man” to solve all my problems.  Yes, in this century, if you can believe that.  But I’ve already made that mistake… more than once.  I won’t make it again.  Man, woman, or miscellaneous other.

Besides, I tend to freak out people when they’re that close to me.  I have very strong intuition, that’s all; nothing special.  I don’t see the future or anything, but apparently I “get” enough on my inner network to make some people very uncomfortable.  I hide it as much as I can, but in close relationships, people usually figure out my freakish intuition.  Then they’re weirded-out.  So I was on a sabbatical from relationships.

All I really wanted was a home, and now I finally had one.  Though how I came to have my home could be a story in itself.  One day at work, I was doing some fact checking.  Something just didn’t feel right about the piece I was editing.  That’s my job – ??????????????????????????????????????editing.  While searching the Internet, I stumbled on a website where houses were being auctioned.  I’d like to think it was my extraordinary intuition that took me to the website.  However it wasn’t my intuition that led me to the site.  I didn’t know it at the time, but something else was responsible for that.

Anyway, one particular house caught my eye.  It was called Sunhold, though it looked more gloomy than sunny in the photos.  Despite the melancholy pictures, it felt… comfortable, maybe even familiar; I couldn’t say why.  It gave me goose bumps when I looked at the pictures.Old House_dreamstime_xs_22975594

Then through a stroke of luck that continued to amaze me, I won the auction for the house – and at an unbelievably low price.  Granted, I was way overdue for some good luck, but things like that just don’t happen to me.  It was too good to be true.  Even so, only the night before, I arrived at the huge and empty old house in the quaint little town of Atonement, Tennessee.

Looking around the kitchen I felt a sense of satisfaction.  It was spacious, but only a corner Raldas Kitchenof it was set up for modern use.  The listing had referred to it as a caretaker’s kitchen.  It was furnished with an old but well-kept dinette set — 1950’s chrome-plated tubular steel frame chairs with green vinyl covered seat and back cushions, and a green and yellow dappled Formica table.  There were also retro metal cabinets in a slightly lighter green than the chairs.  The gas stove was low tech but relatively new, and there was a refrigerator.

The porcelain sink had a couple of chips in it, but it was in pretty good shape.  I leaned against the sink as I watched a hawk settle upon the highest branch of an ancient oak, and remembered that they were supposed to be messengers.  I should have wondered what the hawk’s message might be, but I marveled at its grace instead.  Maybe its message was that I had just gotten my pajamas wet while leaning against the sink…  I looked down at the big wet spot at my stomach and sighed.

Then I heard an unexpected feline noise at the kitchen door.  It couldn’t be my cat.  Or could it?  The first thing I did when I got there was check the house to make sure it was “cat proof,” so she couldn’t get outside.  The meow came again.  That was definitely my cat.  I hurried to the door.cat raspberry

“You know it upsets me when you get out, Lilith.  What would I do if anything happened to you?” I complained, but was ignored.  “Did Puddles get loose again?” I asked, noticing her catitude.

I’d heard the neighbor calling the dog the previous night, and again that morning.  I gathered that was a frequent occurrence, based on the annoyed and bored tone of his voice.  My answer was a long and very catty sounding meow as the calico walked past me to her food dish, fluffy tail held high and swaying.  She inspected the contents for any change that may have occurred while she was outside, nibbled one kibble, and then strolled away to resume her investigation of her new living-room.

There was no microwave, I suddenly realized as I took the jar of instant coffee out of my bag of kitchen stuff.  Fortunately I had included a pan among the odds and ends I thought I might need before the movers arrived.  Before too long I had a steaming cup of coffee in my hand, but knowing Lilith had gotten out had been enough to wake me up, and no caffeine necessary.

There was a lot of work ahead of me.  Decades of dust needed to be cleaned, and I held small hope of making progress before the moving truck containing my meager belongings arrived.  Now a new task went to the top of my to-do list.  If the cat had found a way out of the house, I had to find it and close off her exit.  She had probably already met more neighbors than had I, and she wasn’t even supposed to get outside.

TN Autumn RoadThe neighborhood was rather charming, in its own way.  Sunhold sat atop the hill, with a very long driveway to the road.  The driveway was practically a street, the house being so far off the road.  The drive was lined with tall shrubbery that had gone wild.  I hoped that it bloomed at some point during the year, but I had no idea what the plants were, not yet.

Though the property was quite large, it was fenced all the way around.  There was a comfortable degree of “closeness” to the houses on the opposite side of the street, though there weren’t any immediately next door.  I moved dusty lace curtains to one side to look down the street.  The neighborhood didn’t seem to be up and about yet.

I was wrong.  There was a knock at the door and I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Then I looked down at my ratty pajamas and the big wet spot at my stomach…Feeling-Frumpy-ad

Did I say my intuition was freakish?  Well, it’s also extremely unreliable.  I was not expecting a knock at the door.  I looked around in an undressed panic.  The sweat jacket I’d worn the night before was hanging on the stair rail, thank goodness.  I put it on to camouflage the fact that I was braless, but nothing could hide my lack of makeup, or the dark circles under my eyes.

The knock came again.  How could anybody be that insistent so early?  I reluctantly answered the door, opening it just a crack.  All I could see was a bunch of flowers, in bright fall colors.  Maybe the caffeine hadn’t kicked in yet and I was dreaming…  Then I heard a lilting voice come from behind the flora with a cheery, “Welcome Wagon!”

I didn’t think the Welcome Wagon still existed.  Plus, how many people could sound that bubbly at that time of the morning?  Usually I’m the one who’s a morning person.  However, it had been a long drive from Gwydion white flowersDC to Atonement, Tennessee.  It was evening when I got into town, and it was very late by the time I settled down to go to sleep.  I had a good case of moving exhaustion.  I stood in puzzled, sleepy silence.

Then a handsome face with an engaging grin peeked around from the flowers.  I was even more bewildered — and horrified at having a nice looking man, on my front porch, while I stood braless and frumpy in my pajamas!

As he moved the flowers to the side I saw one of those magnetic nametags on his jacket.  It read “Guy, Fae’s Flowers,” but my foggy brain didn’t readily absorb the information.  Then I saw the florist truck in my drive way.  My driveway, part of my brain cheered.  I remembered seeing the florist shop next to the antiques store on my way through town the evening before.Faes Flowers

“I was so delighted to know we finally have a new lord of the manor — or I should say lady of the manor, living in the old Sunhold estate, that I simply had to do something to welcome you to the neighborhood,” he said in the most charming accent.

Was it Irish?  No, not really.  Scottish maybe?  Not quite.  Something else?  I’m not good at figuring out accents.  I couldn’t place it, but he was surely from somewhere around that part of the world.  Then I noticed the mischievous twinkle in his green eyes.  Mesmerized, I had to shake my head before I could look away.

Had I even spoken to him?  I honestly couldn’t remember whether or not I had so much as opened my mouth.  Or rather, whether I had uttered a word, because I think my mouth actually was hanging open.  I felt my cheeks blush, and stammered a thank you.

“Oh, here.  Let me get you a tip,” I started to excuse myself, and then realized that he was already standing inside.  When had he gotten inside?  I must have been really flustered to have let him get past the front door.  Yet I honestly couldn’t remember him stepping over the threshold.  It was very bewildering.

“No, no,” he said in a happy tone, waiving his hand.  “I’m the shop owner.  It wouldn’t be proper for you to tip me.  Allow me the honor,” he said with a playful expression and a half bow.  “Where can I set these?”

Victorian parlorMy face reddened further at my inadequate furnishings, but I spotted a dusty table across the room.  The dust of course, was embarrassing as well.  However, he placed the flowers there and pretended not to notice.

“I’m sorry,” I began, “the movers won’t be here for a while.  I only got in last evening, so I haven’t had time…” I couldn’t manage to finish the sentence.

He pulled a cloth from his pocket, and I winced thinking he felt the need to clean the horribly dusty table before putting those lovely flowers on it.  However, he only gave the cloth a snap over the table, and then used it to wipe the moisture from the vase.  When he set the flowers down, that tiny area in front of the bay window looked like the only livable place in the house.  It practically shimmered in the early morning sunlight.

“You know,” he spoke conversationally as he adjusted the arrangement, “flowers have a language all their own.  Each one has a meaning.  For instance in days gone by, someone might give you white heather, like this one,” he said, pointing to a blossom, “to say they hoped all your wishes would come true.  It’s also for protection.”

Looking at this man, Guy, from a different perspective, he did strike me as the type of person who had a great deal of knowledge in general, not just about flowers.  He had that kind of modest self-confidence.  However it was combined with the contrast of cocky playfulness.  So why did I feel so uncertain about him?  A first impression was the area where my intuition never led me astray.  But now it wasn’t leading me anywhere at all.

I commented that I had heard that flowers had meanings, but I wasn’t familiar with the Victorian wild flowersparticulars.  I don’t have expert knowledge about flowers, but I recognized brightly colored oleander, orange roses, and the white heather among others that I didn’t know.  It was an attractive, if unusual arrangement.

Reaching into his jacket pocket he withdrew a tiny green dropper bottle.  The morning light was behind him as he held up the bottle, and it made the green glass shine like an emerald.  “Put a few drops of this in the water, every other day or so, and the flowers will stay fresh,” he said and walked over to the spot, to which I seemed to be rooted, to hand me the little bottle.

Just then Lilith sauntered in, twined around my legs, meowed prettily, and then moved to rub her head against the man’s shin.

“Well, hello there beautiful,” he playfully said to my cat.  “I hear calicos are supposed to bring good luck.”

At that Lilith jumped up into his arms.  I’d always known she liked handsome men, but she’d never been quite that bold before.  Startled, I started apologizing again.  However, he held the cat as if he’d always known her, and scratched her chin, which she clearly enjoyed.

“I’m sorry, that’s Lilith.  I can’t believe she jumped on you like that,” I said, blushing even more.  My face must be scorched by now, I thought to myself.

Calico getting scrached“Oh not to worry, I like cats.  Pardon my lacking manners.  I haven’t introduced myself.  Guy Fabdon, at your service.  Owner, florist, and sometime delivery man of Fae’s Flowers,” he introduced himself.

The city must have dulled my manners, I thought, when I realized that his name was on his jacket, while I hadn’t thought to introduce myself.  I held out my hand and said, “Ralda Lawton.  Pleasure to meet you.”

Suddenly curious I asked, “Who is ‘Fae,’ your wife?”  Then I felt humiliated that I had asked.  It sounded like I was fishing for his status, and I really wasn’t.  “I shouldn’t be so curious,” I added awkwardly.

Thankfully he didn’t seem to take it that way.  “That’s alright, Esmeralda,” he said.

I blinked in surprise.  Most people didn’t deduce Esemralda from Ralda.

“Fae was my gran.  She taught me about flowers and I named the shop after her.  Well, as I said, welcome to Atonement, and pardon the early morning intrusion,” he said.

He let the cat jump down as he moved toward the door.  “Oh,” I blustered, “would you care for some coffee?  It’s instant… sorry.”

Guy laughed.  “Do you realize how many times you’ve said you’re sorry in the past five minutes?” he asked with a grin.  “I should apologize for catching you off guard.  I know you must have a ton of things to do…  The house and the grounds — it’s a huge place for one person to take care of.  I hope you’ll call on me if you need a hand with any of the ‘heavy lifting,’ I think they call it here,” he said.

There was that twinkle in his green eyes again.  I could see a faint image of my frumpy reflection in the window behind him.  I Victorian Guy flowerswondered what kind of… of trickster this man could be.  That was what he seemed, a twinkle-eyed, mischievous, trickster.  There was no way he was flirting!  …Was he?

I opened my mouth but nothing came out.  I cleared my throat, and graciously told him I’d keep that in mind.  It was graciously said.  Really it was.  Unfortunately it came out as more of a croak from my suddenly dry throat.

“Thank you for being kind enough to let me have a look at this fine old place.  I admit I’ve had an itch to see inside.  However, I’m shorthanded today, and had best get back to business.”

When I thanked him for the flowers he said it was his pleasure, and then he was gone.  Lilith jumped onto the windowsill and watched his florist truck turn around and head back down the long driveway.

I went to the window to pet the cat.  That was when I noticed something different about the little area where he placed the flowers.  The woodwork on the windowsill seemed brighter.  Maybe it was a trick of the light.  And the old lace curtains, which seemed so dusty moments before, weren’t showing any dust even though the sun was shining through them.  That was odd, but it was early and I had an awful lot of work to get done that day, so I didn’t allow myself time to think about it.

I turned from Lilith to the flowers.  They almost shimmered in the light, and I had to smile at how beautiful they were.  Then I looked at the table and saw that there was not a single mote of dust on it.  The wood grain shown as if it had just been polished.  I Sunny lace windowblinked.  Shaking my head again, I figured he had quickly wiped the table after all.  I must really need more coffee, I told myself.

He’d called himself Guy.  I didn’t care for the name… but what was his last name?  I looked more closely, to admire the flowers, and saw the business card on the plastic stick.  It read, Fae’s Flowers, Gwydion Fabdon proprietor.  Gwydion?  That was even more unexpected than Guy.  But I liked it better.  I tried it out for sound.  Gwydion.  Lilith meowed and turned a pirouette on the windowsill.  Yes, much better than Guy.

I finished my coffee and went upstairs to get dressed.  The truck from the Annie’s Antiques and Consignment Shop might be early too, I thought, catching another mortifying glimpse of my reflection in the window.

I spotted the consignment store when I drove into town.  The moment I saw the shop, I knew there would be some things in the house that bothered me.  You know — because of the freakish intuition.  So as soon as I got into the house, I checked for any furnishings that I didn’t care to keep and called to arrange for their removal.  Annie promised to send two men first thing the next morning

I told myself that after the selected furnishings were removed, it would be easier to finish dusting and generally make myself at home.  However, the truth was I had Annies antiquesimmediately spotted a few pieces that while they were quite nice, they felt very wrong to me, and I wanted to be rid of them as quickly as possible.  That kind of thing was part of my “intuition.”  Over time I had learned to listen to it.  If something felt wrong to me, there usually turned out to be a good reason for the feeling.

Choosing what to wear was no problem; most of my clothes were on the moving truck.  I pulled a knit top over my head, and put on a pair of jeans that were comfortable for working.  As I tied my red hair into a ponytail, I heard plaintive meowing and the noise of a rattling door.  The ability to jiggle open a door that wasn’t closed properly was one of the first “talents” I had discovered Lilith possessed.

As I walked down the hall Lilith’s meows grew louder.  Turning the corner I saw the calico trying her best to open a bedroom door.  When I admonished her, Lilith stood, placing her front feet against the door, pawed the doorknob, and cried, “Purrr-yeow,” her most affective combination of purr and meow.

“Please don’t tell me you hear a mouse in there,” I said with a sense of the inevitable, as the cat inserted her paw beneath the nearly empty roomdoor and tried to lift it upward, a tried and true feline technique for opening doors.

It occurred to me that I had only glanced at the contents of that room.  I scooped up the calico and opened the door.  Lilith struggled to get free.  The room was almost empty except for the wardrobe and a chair.  I didn’t see anything with which the cat might hurt herself, so I let her down.  She went directly to the armoire and pawed at the latch.  Raising an eyebrow at the cat, I opened the wardrobe, ready to jump if a mouse ran out.

At first I thought the armoire was empty, but then I realized a large mirror stood at the back.  I pulled it out into the light.  The metal frame was elaborately worked, and the mirror was in perfect condition.  It was a fine piece.  Yet when I looked into the mirror I experienced sudden intense wave of nausea.  Lilith hissed.

“Nasty!” I said with a look at the cat who clearly agreed.  “This can be the first thing on the truck.”

Despite the bad feeling the mirror gave me, it was an intriguing piece.  I propped it in the old chair (I hadn’t decided whether to keep the chair) so I could examine it better.

The top part of the frame was worked with the image of a sword that stretched across its width, and served to connect the designs at either corner.  On the right corner was a woman with arms raised.  She was blindfolded.  On the left corner I saw a pair of Mirrorscales.  “Lady Justice and the scales of truth and fairness,” I said and looked at the calico as she swished her tail in displeasure.  “Maybe it’s Victorian to be so moralizing,” I pondered aloud.

The lower center of the frame was engraved.  I polished at it with the edge of my long-sleeved T-shirt.  The writing was so elaborate that it was almost impossible to decipher.  “See in your reflection, truth and justice most poetic,” it read.

The mirror itself had a light haze of dirt that I hadn’t noticed at first.  So when I looked into it, my reflection was cloudy.  The haze made my hair look more brown than red.  For a moment I thought it looked like my hair was up on top of my head.

I rubbed at the mirror with my sleeve and cleared a small round area.  I looked at my reflection again and just saw my red ponytail and makeup-bare face.  Ugh.  I wished I hadn’t seen it.  I looked travel-weary and generally awful.

Suddenly the light caught my silver locket.  The reflection shot out so brightly that I saw spots for a moment.  At least, I consoled myself, the locket was one thing that didn’t need cleaning.

***

Atonement, Tennessee

Copyright © 2012 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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